A friend of mine from recovery called me the other day and said they were really afraid of everything that’s happening in the world right now due to this global pandemic and really just wanted to engage in their addiction. I could totally relate, because when an addict’s world feels out of control, they tend to engage in their addiction to grasp some sort of imaginary control back. The irony in that is how it’s not them in control when they engage in their addiction, it’s actually the addiction that’s in control of them.
But that doesn’t stop the addict, because an addict likes to live in the illusion of having some form of control over something. That’s why these are such dangerous times for addiction to really blossom. With so much fear pervading the entire planet now, with financial markets across the globe in total ruin, and people being forced to remain in their homes for safety as everything gets temporarily shuttered in the hopes of keeping everyone healthy, addicts often tend to look for some way to regain control somewhere in their lives. So, they resort to drinking large amounts of alcohol, or taking heavy doses of drugs, or engaging in unhealthy forms of sexual activity, or spending hours looking at pornography, or consuming mega quantities of caffeinated beverages, or overeating foods that aren’t healthy for them, or smoking one cigarette after another, all with the sole purpose of believing they’re more in control of their lives as they do it.
But they aren’t. It really is an illusion.
Because the more they follow this pattern on a repeated basis, the more it becomes a very vicious cycle, falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, until the addict one days realizes they never were in control in the first place while doing their addiction.
I personally know that pattern well and even felt that old desire to act out in unhealthy sexual behaviors on a number of late nights in recent weeks. Thankfully I haven’t and have instead utilized a number of recovery tools to prevent such a thing from happening. Because the last thing I want is to fall back into yet another vicious cycle of addiction where I keep grasping at gaining some form of imaginary control where none was ever there in the first place.
“Lack of control, that was our dilemma.”
This being one of my most favorite quotes from the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, the man who helped to start the movement of recovery from addiction. How true this statement really is because at the very core of every single addict is the desire to have control over their lives. Will downing a ton of alcohol repeatedly gain that? Will taking a bunch of drugs do that either? Will cheating on your partner gain that? Of course, the answer to each is no, but to the addict who isn’t treated, or the recovering addict who’s drifted away from their recovery work, or the person who has the traits to eventually become an addict, none of that usually matters. Because temporarily forgetting all their pain and fear from their lives seems far better than suffering in it for even a moment. But in the end, the addict always loses in their many attempts to regain control.
True recovery from addiction isn’t about regaining or even being in control, it’s about letting go of it and trusting in something greater to get you through those hard times just like the one we all are living in currently.
The only solution I’ve discovered along the way on my journey to recovery is to keeping walk through all my pains and fears and to stop trying to run from it by looking for control somewhere else such as engaging in an addiction. Because on the other side of walking through all pain and fear is a level of peace that remains present, even when the rest of the world seems to be falling apart around you.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson